The photographic murals of Mike Hewson don’t exactly decorate the buildings they inhabit. Rather, the murals create surreal optical illusions, highlighting the buildings by nearly making them disappear. Hewson, creatively uses perspective to erase walls or even entire structures. In some of his work this reveals the buildings inside – its purpose being put to use. Other times, his work interacts with the building in order to recall an empty space or a space’s potential. Hewson’s murals hints not only at structures that we’d often take for granted, but our often overlooked relationships with them.
In his giant installation art / performance Para-Production, artist Ni Haifeng reverses the common global process of production. A massive movement of commodities takes place each day often beginning in the country of Ni Haifeng’s birth – China. Many companies defer production of their goods to the country which are then often exported for consumption in the Western world. In Para-Production, however, a large room is filled with loose garments and sewing machines. Gallery visitors are then invited to work, to sew these items together. In a way, the installation becomes a performance of labor – people that are often the consumer of Chinese-made products instead produce a product for a Chinese artist. [via]
The Argentinian street artist known simply as Elian works with a clean and seemingly effortless style rare in street art. While his large abstract murals would be at home on a magazine page, they work to a powerful effect inhabiting entire sides of buildings. Often using colors reminiscent of a graphic designers CMYK color palette, Elian maximizes the simplicity of each mural. A buildings bland blank wall becomes a space for an exercise in composition and color.
The performances of Zhu Ming are filled with almost a lonely kind of pensiveness. Covered in paint, he enters the bubble often floating on water. The bubble is specially created for the piece and specifically designed to slowly fill with water. Soon the paint is washed off Zhu Ming’s body as he floats quietly alone. The bubble emphasizes the solitary nature of his performance, and underscores ideas of existential isolation. Zhu Ming’s work unfolds silent and strange sort of dignity that is difficult to not project onto life as a whole.
The art of Ala Ebtekar is as simple as it is effective. Ebtekar was born in the United States and raised in California but retained a strong connection to the land of his heritage, Iran. You can nearly see in Ebtekar’s work a gazing at home from far away, a sort of portal. Ebtekar is definitely referencing the cosmic with this work. He says of the Sufi influence behind his work, “Sufis believe that existence is of two natures – both earthly and divine – and it’s that transition between these two states that’s represented by an arch. The arch could be in architecture, but it could also be a beloved’s eyebrow, and how that’s an entrance to that other space.” Ebtekar also subtly uses Western imagery in addressing this “other space” – you’ll notice some of these pieces printed on the back of science fiction movie posters.
The work of South African artist Mary Sibande is complex much like the identities it addresses. Sibande creates life size sculptures, primarily of black women. The sculptures are arrayed in large ornate dresses which, rather than shed light on the subject’s identity, complicate it. The dresses seem to be a perfect blend of Victorian upper class and a maid’s uniform. Sibande’s grand installations efficiently comment on gender, class, colonialism, and beauty. To further underscore these issues, Sibande arranged for huge photographic murals of the installations to be displayed throughout Johannesburg.
Street Artist Joe Boruchow is an expert at manipulating positive and negative space. His work intertwines stark black and white graphic cut outs, often cleverly playing each off the other. Boruchow’s street art compositions are made up of simple but powerful images, wheat paste posters in public spaces. He interacts with his work, much like a stencil or etching, indeed, frequently creating corresponding cut paper pieces of his posters. While adeptly balancing positive and negative space in each poster, Boruchow also give careful attention to the postivie and negative space of the city. His posters can be found filling empty areas of doorways, windows, and walls.
Artist Stevie Gee seems to be as laid back as his art work. Skateboards, surfboards, fins, and posters all bear his unique styling. Gee’s illustration work feels as if it’s pulled from an endless sunset in the middle of an endless summer. At once retro and fresh, the images seem to be culled from a collective memory of skateboarding/surf culture and its heritage. His endearing style has won him high-profile clients such as Vans, Nike, and Lacoste.